Bishop James P. Powers delivers his homily for the annual diocesan Gathering for Life on Oct. 22 at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Hudson as pastor Fr. John Gerritts looks on. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

“We come to celebrate the gift of life. We come to answer that call of our God. We come to recommit ourselves,” Bishop James P. Powers said in opening his homily for the annual diocesan Gathering for Life held at St. Patrick Church in Hudson on Oct. 22.

The bishop thanked the crowd for being there despite the beautiful fall weather. He shared a personal reflection from his drive, connecting to Pope Francis’ call to include a commitment to care for the earth as also being pro-life.

He described the sun breaking through trees, with what colorful leaves they were still holding onto, the steam rising off lakes and how it all spoke to him of the presence of God.

“The choice to be here is a statement for life,” Bishop Powers affirmed.

An added blessing, he said, was the Gathering for Life coincided with the feast day of Pope St. John Paul II. He commented on the importance of the Theology of the Body teachings as another pro-life element emphasizing the marvelous creation of mankind in God’s image.

“We cannot be reminded enough,” he said, “We cannot proclaim enough that we are created in the image and likeness of God. Created for holiness, out of love and created for a mission.”

Referencing Psalm 39, which speaks of being knit together in a mother’s womb and how each person is wonderfully made, the bishop added, “In our God’s eyes, all life is sacred … You and I are sacred … There’s a plan for each and every one of us … Every person who ever was, whoever will be and sadly for every person who should have been.”

“In this post-Roe world,” Bishop Powers stated, “We need to hold ever more tightly to those truths of our God.”

He said that while the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision was a “huge step … It’s the end.” He encouraged those present and following the event to go beyond calling for an end to abortion.

While the bishop said the Catholic Church is already the biggest provider of social services to women and children, in order to truly turn the “culture of death into a culture of life, that takes more than words.”

“It takes not resting on our past goods and works but recommitting to them and to more.”

Noting the good work of crisis pregnancy centers, efforts of Knights of Columbus and the U.S. bishops’ Walking with Moms initiative, Bishop Powers iterated the importance of these worthwhile efforts and others, but continued, “We can’t simply tell someone it’s wrong to end a life. We need to walk with them. We need to support them. We need to help give them viable options.”

The bishop said he was glad adoption was the day’s focus, calling it “a beautiful gift … in so many different ways.”

Touching on the Gospel of Peter’s conversation with Jesus after the Resurrection where he was asked three times if he loved the Lord, Bishop Powers reflected,

“Jesus asks us the same question he asked Peter, and his response will also be the same – tend my sheep, feed my lambs. Our Lord created us as one family, and he calls us to live as one family. To care for and about one another.”

Bishop Powers clarified that “The call to be pro-life isn’t just about protecting life at conception or birth, but every single day of our lives – reaching out, helping and caring for one another.”

It is not what we do as much as who we are he concluded, “Being pro-life needs to encompass the totality of our lives.”

Gathering focuses on adoption

Diocesan Respect Life Office director Bonnie Thom shared that, while the Gathering for Life was modestly attended, it “proved to be a very beautiful event filled with an extraordinary testimony of adoption from both the point of view of the biological family and adoptive family.

“At times, we were moved to tears by the beauty of loving relationships that were formed through the adoption experience,” she said.

Thom also said those in attendance had a special desire to learn more about adoption or had their own personal stories connected with the gift of receiving a child or being adopted. Other topics touched on the various forms of adoption, support programs, cost and funding sources and the process parents follow if they are looking to adopt or to prepare for a child to be adopted.

Representatives from Options for Women – River Falls also brought information and talked with several people on the services provided at their crisis pregnancy center. Donations for the center were collected during the event.

Fr. Dennis Mullen of Rice Lake brought information regarding his personal efforts to support and promote adoption in the local communities of the Diocese of Superior.

The Office of Respect Life provided a table with resources covering various aspects of respecting life, with an emphasis on adoption.